Something's rotten in the state of Denmark

Monday, December 13, 2004


Okay, okay, we have been asleep at the wheel -- or rather, have had to do the work that pays the bills. But there's a lot to catch up on.

First, here's the Cliff Curtis situation. Curtis claims that Rep. Tom Feeney of Florida asked him four years ago for software that could atler votes on electronic voting machines in Florida.

urtis said Feeney asked for code that could go undetected on a voting machine and be easily triggered without any devices by anyone using the machine. Curtis had never seen source code for a voting machine, but in five hours, he said he designed code in Visual Basic that would launch if someone touched specific spots on the voting screen after selecting a candidate.

Once the code was activated, it would search the machine to see if the selected candidate's total was behind. If it was, the machine would award that candidate 51 percent of the total votes recorded on the machine and redistribute the remaining votes among the other candidates in the race.

Curtis said he initially believed Feeney wanted the code to see if such fraud were possible and to know how to detect it. The programmer told Feeney that such code could never be undetectable in source code, and he wrote a paper describing how to look for it. But when he gave the paper and code to his employer, Yang told him he was looking at it all wrong. They weren't looking at how to find code, Curtis said she told him. They needed code that couldn't be found.

"Her words were that it was needed to control the vote in West Palm Beach, Florida," Curtis said. "Once she said, 'We need to steal an election,' that put me back. I made it clear that I could not produce code that could do that and no one else should."

Even if the Curtis story turns out to be bogus -- the most alarming thing to take away from it is that even if this software was not used -- it could have been used. We refer back to our theory professed in some post from far long ago: in a nation with the top technological know-how and software companies in all the world, how can our electoral process be so suspectible to tampering?